The Jeff Davis Trail provides a safe way across the interstate and into uptown, so I cut over to South Carrollton Avenue. There’s a new bike lane here, and since it was installed, bike traffic has increased by over 200 percent. Carrollton connects to Oak Street, the city’s first “Complete Streets” project, and there are several new bike racks on every block of restaurants, shops and cafés. The city passed a Complete Streets ordinance in late 2011 thanks to the Sustainable Transportation Advisory Committee.
To get back downtown, I take Freret Street past the lush campus of Tulane University and through another newly revitalized neighborhood corridor that caters to cyclists. Stop in at Dat Dog and grab a serious frankfurter or snag a fresh, healthy take on the city’s iconic snowball at Beaucoup Juice nearby, next to The Bike Shop. Uptown, the cyclists include a mix of college kids, families en route to car-free fun rides in Audubon Park or on the Mississippi River Levee Trail.
Finally, I cut down to Saint Charles Avenue and race a streetcar down the city’s most famous boulevard. Recent counts conducted by the University of New Orleans found that on some corridors leading to the CBD from uptown, bikes constitute upwards of 20 percent of all daily traffic, and ridership is growing rapidly every year. As my ride ends, I can’t help but reflect that there has never been a better time to be a bicyclist in New Orleans.
Tara Tolford is a nine-year NOLA devotee and an urban planner at the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute. She currently manages the Pedestrian Bicycle Resource Initiative, and rides her trusty Schwinn to restaurants, festivals, and Bicycle Second Lines all over the city. @PBRI_NewsFeed